What came first your Anxiety or your Internet Addiction?
What is it about the internet that draws us in? Is it Anxiety?
Whether it be TikTok or google maps, there is something for everyone to look at, all times of the day. Then look at again, and then again. With people seeking therapeutic help for phone addiction, do you feel worried about the amount of time you spend online? Or is your anxiety causing you to spend more time online?
Time to Log Off, claim that adults spend on average nearly 9 hours a day on screens! And children 6 ½ hours. Yet interestingly a survey concluded that almost half of 18-34 year olds said their social media feeds made them feel inadequate. Why are we doing what makes us feel bad?
The Effects of Positive Psychotherapy
In a search for ways to eliminate internet addiction, a research paper published in the Avicenna Journal of Neuro Psycho Physiology has investigated The Effects of Positive Psychotherapy on Internet Addiction and Identity Crisis in Female Senior High School Students. The purpose of the paper was to see the effect of positive psychotherapy on internet addiction and identity crisis.
With internet addiction and identity crisis being related to high levels of anxiety there is the question whether the internet addiction is causing the anxiety or the anxiety is causing the internet addiction. The research paper did conclude that;
“positive psychotherapy significantly reduced internet addiction”
Correlation to Anxiety
The interventions used in the study are particularly significant techniques used when working to reduce anxiety. In my quick fix anxiety session, we utilise many of the same in detail. A theory proposed in the study is that the tendency to use the internet excessively and become addicted could result from loneliness, social isolation, and decreased quality of interpersonal relationships, something we are all subject to currently.
The authors do consider positive psychotherapy an intervention to internet addiction. Using research that signifies internet addiction is positively correlated with emotional and avoidance coping strategies they suggest that it is the result of life struggles that users become addicted rather than the addiction causes the life struggles.
Why the Internet Addiction?
Using the internet could be a jump platform to escape reality, distracting the mind from stress and negative emotion and that individuals experiencing negative emotion often use the internet as a way of regulating that, leading to an addiction.
There is hope that positive psychotherapy could increase positivity, decrease negativity, and reduce extreme use of the internet.
Read on for four positive psychotherapy techniques used in the study, also covered in my quick fix session for anxiety, that you can put into use at home right now;
Your brain, considered plastic in neuroscience, changes and moulds continuously and differently depending on the types of thoughts you have. The same continued thoughts strengthen the pathways of that particular thought.
Use positive affirmations, such as “I am confident and worthy”, to mould your brain positively. Write a list of positive affirmations relevant to you, stick them up around your house or bedroom and say them out loud multiple times a day. Repeating the phrases to yourself, out loud, regularly will begin to break down the negative pathways in your brain as the positive strengthen and take over.
This purposeful act forces you to take responsibility and shape your life personally rather than being a passive participant in your own life.
Recognise your positive experiences and use them to enhance your self-esteem; whilst at the same time notice the positive aspects of life and other people. This positive learning will give you a feeling of control in your life. Whilst enabling you to take more responsibility for your credibility and value, achieving a better understanding of yourself.
The participants in the study seemed to recognise their abilities and talents finding solutions to their problems. Alongside a desire to improve their skills and abilities.
Fighting negative thoughts
Discussed within the study, ice peaks are the same, deep beliefs that lead to irrational and sudden emotional reactions.. Very common in anxious thinking. Asked to identify their ice peaks, the participants then questioned whether the ice peaks were meaningful to them. The purpose of the exercise was to learn how to recognise their own thoughts that provoke emotion. Provided coping techniques gave the participants the ability to minimise catastrophic thinking.
Begin to identify and stop your negative thoughts. Become aware of your own negative thinking. As you notice yourself having a negative thought, correct it in the moment by consciously saying to yourself “STOP”. Reframe your thought to a related positive thought and say the positive thought out loud to yourself five times. The more often you do this the better you will become at identifying the negative thoughts and the more effective the exercise will be.
Studies have shown that more optimistic people tend to be less anxious, and that optimistic thoughts increase activity in the front right brain. The front right brain switches off when we are in a stressed or anxious state. It’s time to create optimistic thoughts! Whilst it is understandably difficult to naturally have optimistic thoughts when in an anxious state, by manipulating the thoughts using the positive affirmation techniques and negative thought stopping techniques previously mentioned this part of the brain will start to flick on.
Once the positive and optimistic way of thinking becomes a natural way for you to think your front right brain will find ‘on’ it’s default mode.
Dr. David Hamilton has done a lot of work on kindness and its benefit to the body, you can read his blogs on his website to learn quite how powerful kindness is.
As Aristotle said; “Man is a social animal”, designed to pick up signals from others. If people around you are in the danger mode, your brain will pick this up and start to react in the same way. Being kind to others can help them to feel at ease which in turn will help you feel at ease.
By surrounding yourself with those that have fully functioning front brains your brain will detect safety. We connect with others by working in synchronicity and building rhythms that connect us with others. Breath exercises, chanting, martial arts like qigong, drumming, group singing, yoga and dancing can be especially important to this theory as they all rely on relationships and communicating with others through connection and facial communications. This can help you reorganise your perception of danger and increase your capacity to manage relationships, giving you less need for the internet.